God's Commandments - Some Accomplishments
It is evident that we are presently in an age in which there is little regard and much deprecation for God's commandments. The popular teaching of the era is "salvation is wholly of grace and commandments are not essential." The selfish "me generation" loves this teaching and many growing religions today have fostered such teaching in an effort to gain and maintain people. Religionists are heard vociferously teaching, "love is all that matters." However, John wrote: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I Jn. 5: 3).
One way to determine the value of a given matter is to establish the associated action. Relative to God's commandments, we are to "keep them," "believe them," "love them," long after commandments," "know the commandments," and "walk after the commandments" (Ps. 119: 60; Acts 27: 25; Ps. 119: 127; Ps. 119: 131; Lk. 18: 20; 2 Jn. 6). To the converse, those who "keep not," "rebel against," "turn from commandments," "lay aside," and "transgress" God's commandments are held in contempt of God (Jn. 14: 24, 21; Deut. 9: 23; 2 Pet. 2: 20-22; Mk. 7: 8; Matt. 15: 3). Let us now turn our attention to some stated accomplishments of God's commandments.
God's commandments are the essence of man. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter," wrote the wise man, "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man" (Eccl. 12: 13). Those who are of the lawless movement are not experiencing all that God has in store for them. There is a matter lacking in their lives. I say this because the "whole of man" is seen in keeping God's commandments.
God's commandments enlighten our eyes. The Psalmist of old wrote, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Ps. 19: 8). Again we read, "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Prov. 6: 23). These words are not limited to the Law of Moses. The Christian is "not without law to God, but under the law to Christ" (I Cor. 9: 21). We are to seek to "fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6: 2). Christianity consists of law and grace combined; hence, the "perfect law of liberty" (Jas. 1: 25).
Keeping God's commandments can cause us to dwell in God. "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him and he in him," wrote the apostle of love, "And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" (I Jn. 3: 24). The expression "dwelleth in him and he in him" is indicative of a relationship between God and man. This relationship is contingent on man keeping God's commandments.
Those who keep God's commandments can enjoy prosperity. One should never seek to keep God's law simply because of any monetary advantages. However, there are often physical benefits: "Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth; the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever" (Ps. 112: 1-3). I realize that physical wealth is often associated with the Law of Moses, but I believe that there is a general principle involved.
God's commandments can make one wise. Many today are groping about in despair. Their judgments and values are terrible; hence, their lives are in bad shape. Hear God's word: "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" (Ps. 119: 98-100, 103).
Conformity to God's commandments can result in length of days. "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee," wrote Solomon (Prov. 3: 1, 2). This same principle is recognized in the New Testament (cp. Eph. 6: 1-3). Thus, not only is quality of life offered to those who submit to God's commandments, but also longevity.
Those who keep God's commandments out of love know God. There was a false doctrinal system developing in John's day known as Gnosticism. Gnostics generally believed as many moderns do today that God's commandments are optional. "One can know God without keeping God's commandments," they and many affirm today. John exposes this error in the following teaching: "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him" (I Jn. 2: 3-5).
God's commandments offer life. The wise man enunciated a general truth when he wrote, "Keep my commandments, and live, and my law as the apple of thine eye" (Prov. 7: 2). He consistently wrote, "Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded" (Prov. 13: 13). Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10: 10). This life of which Jesus spoke is offered to those who love him and keep his commandments (Jn. 14: 21-24).
Answered prayer necessitates the keeping of the commands of God. John wrote very simply, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I Jn. 3: 22). This echoes the truth taught in the following: "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Prov. 28: 9).
Righteousness is the result of keeping God's laws. Listen to the Psalmist, "My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness" (Ps. 119: 172, cp. Lk. 1: 6). Many centuries later and under a different dispensation we read, "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous" (I Jn. 3: 7). Righteousness involves being right with God.
Keeping God's commandments demonstrates ones love of God. Those who seek to separate love of God and God's commandments would do well to consider the following: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments " (I Jn. 5: 3). Later, John penned, "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments " (2 Jn. 6).
It is our desire that by realizing more the wonderful accomplishments of keeping God's commandments, man will appreciate the statutes and laws of God more. How can one sincerely consider the foregoing and still conclude that the commands of God are optional? It is possible to attempt to keep law without the proper motivation, love of God. However, one cannot love God and reject his commands (Jn. 14: 21-24). Anyone or any system that de-emphasizes the commands of God is manifestly false and is of a lawless spirit (I Jn. 2: 3-6). (To read an exchange relative to the importance of God's commands in the matter of unity and fellowship with God and man, click on "An Exchange Regarding God's Commandments.") (Other pertinent marterial would be, "Legalism, What Exactly Is It?")